Above: Orientation interns lead new students in a game during an on-campus visit in June.

More than 2,000 new students will join the College of Charleston family next month. To help them prepare, virtual orientation sessions run through Aug. 18, 2021, and a series of optional on-campus visit days geared toward getting students familiar with campus life continues through July 23.

orientation interns jeronimo ortega and hannah finley

Orientation interns Jeronimo Ortega and Hannah Finley

And orientation interns like Jeronimo Ortega, a senior majoring in psychology, and Hannah Finley, a senior double-majoring in secondary education and English, are online and on campus, ready to guide and support new students as they get ready for their first semester at CofC.

“Please don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it,” says Finley. “For every problem you have while you’re at CofC, there’s about 10-times the amount of people who want and know how to help you. Everyone at the College is rooting for you and would love nothing more than to help you if problems arise. Take advantage of that!”

New students must attend orientation in order to register for classes prior to the start of the fall 2021 semester. Students who do not attend an orientation session will have to wait until Aug. 23 to register for classes – the day before fall 2021 classes begin. Registration for on-campus visit days is open now.

RELATED: Find out everything you need to know about orientation.

The College Today caught up with Ortega and Finley to find out how incoming students can maximize visiting campus ahead of the fall semester and what they should keep in mind as they start their time at CofC.

What are some key offices to know on campus?

Finley: In my opinion, the most important offices to know on campus are the Center for Student Learning (CSL), the Counseling Center, Campus Services HQ, Public Safety and Student Health Services. These offices ensure that you can take care of your physical body, mental health, college logistics and get help with your academics! Students should know where the library, dining halls and Cistern are, too.

An orientation intern leads new students and family members on a tour of campus. (Photos by Mike Ledford and Heather Moran)

What should new students keep in mind when registering for classes? 

Ortega: My biggest advice for registering for classes would be to run it by your advisor before making any major changes to your schedule and to take advantage of the relationship you can build with your advisors. You can find amazing mentors in your advisors!

What is OAKS?

Finley: OAKS is the College’s online learning management platform you’ll use to find and complete much of your coursework at the College. Think of it as the Google Classroom of CofC. Your professors will use it to upload the syllabus, quizzes, readings, discussion boards and more. You should get familiar with it ASAP because you’ll want to be comfortable with it by the time classes begin so you don’t miss anything. I’d also recommend setting up notifications so you can check your grades when they’re posted!

What are some must-haves new students should bring when moving into residence halls?

Finley: It’s better to bring less than you think you need and buy more later, than to bring way more than you need and carry it around with you for the next four years. Do bring a mattress topper and more command hooks than you think you’ll need. Also, I recommend assembling a small first aid/medicine kit with ibuprofen, pepto bismol, Tums, allergy medicine, a thermometer, a variety pack of Bandaids, Neosporin, bug spray, sunscreen, and maybe some cold medicine to have on hand just in case.

Stephanie Auwaerter, director of orientation, talks with incoming students about adjusting to college life during a campus vist.

Any tips for living with roommates?

Finley: You don’t have to be best friends, but sit down and have a conversation about what you want your living situation to look like. Don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs and rely on your RA (resident assistant) if necessary. Be prepared to make compromises.

What’s a key tip for acclimating to your new home? 

Ortega: When it comes to getting to know the campus and City of Charleston, I would recommend setting aside time in your schedule to get to know the beautiful place you will get to call home for the next several years. Being a student, it is so easy to over focus on academics and forget you’re a person in a new place as well. Make time with friends or loved ones to explore campus and Charleston!

Check out this list of apps new CofC students should definitely download.

How can new students immerse themselves in their new lives in Charleston? 

Finley: Explore the city as much as possible. There’s so much to see in Charleston, and there are so many fun little things to do that you only learn about if you go out and find them yourself. It’s easy to just run to Starbucks or Chipotle instead of trying one of those places you’ve never been to before that are on your bucket list. All those times you tell yourself “next time” can get away from you pretty quickly. Challenge yourself to try someplace new more often than not. Your time at CofC will move more quickly than you anticipate, so make the most of the time you have in the city!

What’s one thing new students often ask about during orientation and visits to campus? 

Ortega: I get asked a lot of questions about making making friends in college. I like to remind new students that everyone else is also trying to make friends as much as they are! Take those brave five seconds to ask someone in the cafeteria if you can sit with them or a person in your class if they would like to study with you after class. Your only regret will be not saying “Hello!”